National Park Officials Rally to Protect and Rehabilitate “Plai Khai Nui” – A Wild Elephant’s Journey to Recovery


Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, Aug. 19 – In a display of collective dedication, Mr. Charan Duangpaen, the Director of the National Park Division at The Office of Conservation Area 5, took the initiative to boost the morale of park officials from Khlong Klai Watershed Management Unit, Khao Nan National Park, and Krung Ching Waterfall National Park. These officials are currently spearheading the efforts to care for the enigmatic wild elephant known as “Plai Khai Nui.”

After enduring a series of incidents involving crop destruction, harm to agricultural yields, and damage to the property of villagers in Noppitam District over the past two years, the situation finally came to a head. A total of 104 villagers decided to take action, filing a petition with the Administrative Court. This petition prompted authorities to intervene and address the issue of this roaming wild elephant.

In response, the authorities took a decisive step by taking custody of “Plai Khai Nui.” This wild elephant, which had been causing disruption, was secured within the confines of Krung Ching. The designated area for the elephant was carefully selected behind the office of the Klong Lai Watershed Management Unit, cordoned off to ensure the safety of the elephant and those involved in its care. The intention was to provide temporary sanctuary for the elephant, where it could be attended to by a team of dedicated veterinarians and staff members around the clock.

The team, working in collaboration with a veterinarian, assumed the responsibility of 24-hour care for “Plai Khai Nui.” They meticulously arranged meals for the elephant and even opened the doors for local villagers to contribute by donating elephant-friendly sustenance. The focus of the diet revolved around forest vegetation, particularly wild bananas, which were thoughtfully chosen to help the elephant adapt its eating habits. To prevent any undesirable behavior, fruits like durians and conventional bananas were omitted from the menu.

Sharing insights into the situation, Mr. Wiroj Supradit, affectionately known as “Kwan Aod,” a mahout from the local community who was entrusted with overseeing elephant operations by the Department of Parks, highlighted the initial health assessment. It revealed unexplained wounds on the elephant’s trunk, accompanied by multiple skin lesions. These findings underscored the necessity of isolating the animal for a comprehensive health evaluation before contemplating its release back into its natural habitat.

At present, the Department of National Parks is diligently working on identifying an alternative location for the elephant’s release, which would not be its original habitat. This strategic move aims to resolve the peculiar behavioral issues that set “Plai Khai Nui” apart from regular wild elephants.

Moreover, it has come to light that the Department of National Parks’ wild elephant research team has embarked on a mission to gather genetic material samples from “Plai Khai Nui.” These samples will be scrutinized to gain insights into the genetic relationships among wild elephants in the southern region. This newfound knowledge will prove invaluable for managing groups of unruly wild elephants and inform decisions related to selecting forest areas that could foster greater genetic diversity among these magnificent creatures.


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